Tag Archives: beets

Deep Roots

As we prepare to self-quarantine for the winter, I am wondering how many people really enjoy being home? What is the meaning of home for each of us? Is it easier to be home as we age? By the time I turned 30, I had already moved 36 times in my life. I remember never really feeling at ease or content when I was at home. The following 36 years I have moved 3 times. I have lived in a rural climate now for 14 years and I find that my sense of place has changed dramatically since I lived in the urban world.

My writing desk overlooks both marsh and lake. I face a large window that beckons I not only write, but rest in this environment. I stare at our bird feeders and the weather for long periods of time. I learn subtleties, and patterns of nature and the seasons. I find this calming; and who wouldn’t want to feel calmer during these days of upheaval?

It seems to me, when I lived in the city I was much more interested and connected to both entertainment and personal possessions. Being pleasing and accepted by people was of prime importance. It wasn’t until I began searching out periods of solitude and quiet that I began requiring those things to stay balanced. As I stay in one place, my roots grow deeper in the soil, providing a vessel for my own thoughts and perspectives. I feel held. My relationship with my wife is nurtured by this sense of place. We have our rhythms and interests that continue the story of this land. We both love the quiet, growing and cooking food along with sharing that food with others. For some, the meaning of roots is about tradition, for us the meaning of roots is about the land, food and relationships. Our relationships are based on mutual respect and love. They are reciprocal in the most fundamental of ways. We have each others backs. We can ask for help, and often it is given without request. There is laughter, discussion and heart. As Joni Mitchell once said, “All we ever wanted was to come in from the cold.”

The following recipe has some flexibility to it. I love purchasing (or growing) beets with greens. The greens are beautiful, healthy and add color and interest to this meal salad. If beet greens are not available, arugula or spinach are a good option, but use them raw rather than sautéed. I also enjoy alternative dressing ideas. The basic dressing uses extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and garlic. Try using extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar and peach or apricot jam. Beets love being pared with stone fruits; or you can use orange juice. Free you imagination to add interest and surprise. If you find yourself out of capers, chop up some olives; and chevre or goat cheese can easily substitute for feta. No pistachios? Try toasted walnuts.

Savory, hearty and delicious

ROASTED BEET SALAD WITH FETA & PISTASCHIOS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 7 medium-large beets with greens
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped drained capers
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped roasted pistachios
Beets ready to go into oven
Vibrant beet greens

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Whisk oil, vinegar and garlic in small bowl to blend. Season dressing generously with salt and fresh ground black pepper.
  2. Cut tops off beets; reserve greens. Arrange beets in single layer in a baking dish; add 1 cup water. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until beets are tender when pierced with a knife; about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let cool until you can handle them and peel off the skins. I pick them up with paper towels and slip them off.
  3. Cut beets in half and slice thinly. Transfer to large bowl and mix with capers and 1/4 cup dressing. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Cut stems off beet greens and discard. Wash greens, then with some water still clinging to the leaves, transfer to large pot or skillet. Stir over high heat until just wilted but still bright green, about 4 minutes. Drain greens; squeeze out excess moisture. Cool; chop coarsely. Transfer to medium bowl and toss with enough dressing to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Arrange beets in center of platter. Surround with greens; sprinkle with feta and pistachios. Drizzle with any remaining dressing.

Serves 4-6

Yum.

“A tree with strong roots laughs at storms. –Malay proverb

The Beet Goes On

Until I moved to our vegetable farm I absolutely hated beets and avoided them at all costs.  Yet here I am staring out at the drifted snow and frozen lake with a bowl of borscht in my hand.  The smell alone is enough to make you swoon.  I feel a sense of gratitude for learning to love the darn things.  Our farm is committed to growing vegetables without chemicals (which can significantly alter their flavor) so when I tried them again I was surprised by their inherent sweetness.  What was I thinking?  They are one the best things you can eat; full of essential vitamins and minerals.  They are low in calories and sodium along with assisting in the reduction of inflammation in the body.  They also support heart, digestion and brain function.  So what’s not to like?  There’s nothing like a bowl of warm goodness to set you straight.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium leek, cleaned and sliced thinly (make sure you use the light green part as well)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4-6 carrots, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
  • 6 small or 3 large beets, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
  • 3 cups of thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh dill
  • 8 cups organic vegetable stock (or homemade of course)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • Greek yogurt to serve (optional)

IMG_2048

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1.  Heat the olive oil in a soup kettle or Dutch oven on medium high heat.
  2. Add leek, garlic and red onion.  Saute until soft and translucent.
  3. Add sweet potato, beets and grated carrot.  Cook for 5 minutes stirring frequently.
  4. Add red cabbage, dill and vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium.  Simmer for 30 minutes or until beets are soft when a paring knife is inserted.
  5. Add red wine vinegar off heat.  Serve in bowls topped with a dollop of yogurt if using and sprinkle additional fresh chopped dill on top.

Serves 6-8

IMG_2049

“Soup fills us, nurtures and comforts us.  Soup is the song of the heart and the home.”

Can’t Beet It!

When I first came to the farm and was getting my sea-legs, I did not like beets.  In fact I’ve never liked beets. When I saw dozens of 100 foot rows planted, I remember asking Val, “Is there really a call for this many beets?”  I soon learned that beets are one of our most popular crops.  I also learned that when you grow food without chemicals, it directly affects the flavor of those vegetables.  You have an opportunity to find how they genuinely taste, which is often incredibly sweet.  Over time, with Val’s encouragement, I learned to not only like beets, but love them!  Now I pickle them, roast them and put them in soups.  When the weather cools off, soups come front and center.  After making borscht for several years with red beets, I began to wonder if it would work with our beautiful golden beets.  Slightly milder in flavor, I knew they would match up equally well with our carrots, onions, potatoes and dill.  It’s a wonderfully satisfying soup.

IMG_1638

IMG_1640

 

Golden Beet Borscht:

  • 4 cups golden beets with greens, peeled and diced, greens reserved and cut into thin ribbons
  • 2 cups red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, scrubbed and sliced in disks about 1/2 inch
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 4 cups organic or homemade chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

IMG_1647

 

  1.  In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, saute the garlic and onions with the olive oil on medium-high until softened.  Add the remaining vegetables and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the fennel seed, dill, bay leaf, and stock.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until vegetables are soft.  About 15 minutes.
  3. Ribbon the beet greens and add half to soup.
  4. Add the salt, pepper and apple cider vinegar.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your preference.
  5. Ladle into bowls, top with additional beet greens and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Serves 4

Warm and inviting golden beet borscht

 

I live on good soup, not on fine words.”   …Moliere